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Galle – Colonial Traces in Sri Lanka

14 September 2012 Sri Lanka, travel stories 2 comments

Sights of Sri Lanka: colonial town

Buddhist temples, wild elephants, barefoot pilgrims…typical and normal images for what a traveler to Sri Lanka expects…but Sri Lanka is much more complex. European colonists passed this place as well in search for spices, gold and other wealth. Portuguese, Dutch and English men were successive masters on Sri Lanka’s coasts, the latest barely left in 1948. They took as much as they could. But they did leave some as well. Among the good things that they left is the Fort in Galle city, an European colonial enclave…

Taking fort Galle step by step is like traveling through time. If it weren’t for the Tuk-Tuks and the cars that ride from now and then on the streets of the quiet burg, you would expect to see horseback riders and carriages around the corner. History, history but not like that …

First of all, why is it called a fort? Because it is a fort, it’s a fortress surrounded by thick, walls. In the old times, it may have defended the city from enemies, but in 2004 it defended it from tsunami. The ones in the Fort weren’t affected, while the new town was devastated. The Dutch men built it strongly. During the days I was in Galle, thank God, there wasn’t any tsunami, nor did the pirates come. So I could walk silently on the walls of the city, enjoying the breeze of the sea but also the town’s architecture.

Galle is in the middle of a changing process. Some buildings that were ruins were bought usually by foreigners and transformed to hotels or souvenir shops. One of them is the Hotel Galle Fort that was transformed from a ruin of former house of a 17th centurt Dutch merchant to a chic hotel with pools and a colonial atmosphere. In the hot air of the day, an ice tea on the terrace above the pool came so in handy….

As expected, the Fort Galle has some museums, but they won’t blow you away, but you have to observe the churches in this fortress. I was there on a Sunday, so the churches were full of faithful people. The European traces remained and some of their successors mixed with the native population and their grandchildren remained Christian.

Galle is not a place to check some tourists attractions… it’s not that big, best option is to take it step by step and discover it. There aren’t more than three parallel streets that cross it and the street next to the walls. The most interesting one is the Church Street, probably the old Large Street. Hotel Amangalla is found here, the former luxurious 19th century hotel, where the high class stayed when they left over 100 years ago to travel all around the vast British Empire.…Two more steps and you reach Lloyd’s office – on the porch you see the board with the boats that arrived in the port in the 19th century….after you pass the Fort Galle Hotel you’ll be surprised by a floral roof top over a small supermarket….and a couple of steps further you end up in the Muslim district. It may seem weird, but the south of the Fort is Muslim – here there is a large Mosque that looks like a gothic cathedral, but you can also find the Medersa where young Lanka muslims study the Koran. In fact, when walking on the alleys of the Galle, I saw a procession of men wearing nothing but white walking out of the mosque.

You’ll get the most spectacular panoramic view from up on the walls. Here the majority of tourists stroll around, lots of them are Lanka people. And where there are Lankan tourists, not to be missed are the ambulant ice cream sellers with their mini fridges on their bikes and a small harmonica that makes their presence felt. On the wall of the fort there is also the old lighthouse. Next to the lighthouse, there is the beach full of children and young Lankans that are taking a bath. Like in Thailand, the women won’t get undressed to their bathing suits, but bathe completely dressed… only the men can wear just a bathing suit.

And if you really feel like a bath, jump into a Tuk Tuk and go to Unawatuna where there’s a superb beach waiting for you…

Pictures of Galle:

 Where to sleep in Galle: Rampart HotelRampart Hotel

Sights of Galle: old town's streets Streets from Galle

Sights of Sri Lanka: the Galle streets full with flowers

Sights of Sri Lanka: Children of Galle Children of Galle – Muslims, Christians, Buddhists

 Sights of Sri Lanka: palm trees in Galle

Things to do in Galle: see the lighthouseThe lighthouse

Things to do in Galle: visit The big Mosque The big Mosque

Muslim get out of moque prayersWalking out of the mosque

Sights of Galle: The big MosqueThe big Mosque

Sights of Galle: Another, smaller mosqueAnother, smaller mosque

Things to do in Galle: just visit

Things to do in Galle: visit the water front

Sights of Galle: The lighthouse

Where to eat in Galle: the Indian Hut restaurant - no pork, no beef, no liquorNot that, neither that, so what are we eating?

Sri Lanka hotels: Galle Fort HotelGalle Fort Hotel

The reformed Dutch Church The reformed Dutch Church

Sights of Galle: The reformed Dutch ChurchThe reformed Dutch Church

Young girls of Sri Lanka

Beach of Sri Lanka: the white beach of Galle

Wet girls in Sri Lanka

Contemplating the Ceylon sea

 

Până acum există "2 comentarii" la acest articol:

  1. Wonderful photo essay! Sri Lanka is one of the few places in Asia I’m most on visiting. I’ve done two big backpacking trips in Asia (2008 & 2011) and I’m hoping to finally make it to Sri Lanka on my next adventure in 2013 :)

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